Why Eat out of Toxic Plastic Containers When Tableware Made of Sugarcane Fibre Is Available?
The Brit boasted ‘We sterilise our plates for every meal'. And the Indian retorted ‘We use fresh plate every time'. Possibly he was referring to the simple plates made out of plantain leaves, but the message met the bull's eye. The bone, China, enamel coated stuff is no match for the biodegradable plantain or betel tree plates and definitely for the sugarcane fibre containers and tableware.
The alternative to the usual containers, plates or cutlery, is disposable plastic or Styrofoam. Or for that matter so called paper cups which is a plastic coated contraption by default. For the sake of convenience, the usage of plastic material is on the rise. But a severe damage to the environment is in the making by that act.
Here is an Engineer and MBA graduate, Samanvi Bhograj, from Bangalore has come out with an innovative solution to thwart the plastic menace effectively.
Her company Visfortec Private Limited manufacture fully bio-degradable and compostable tableware products from Sugarcane fibres. She says confidently "Plastic has become a matter of convenience. It's cheap and easily available. But we need to be responsible for every item we use".
Her search for a viable alternative for material that would not deplete the nature anymore took almost four years. Her exposure to sustainable energy and environmental degradation helped her to identify Bagasse, the Sugarcane fibre as the right candidate. The bagasse, which is the fibre after extracting the juice as such has
That material proved to be the ideal one for making food containers and tableware. The range was vast- plates, bowls, containers, food trays, cups, etc. the products produced out of sugar cane fibre, once disposed of will fully degrade biologically in a month or two. Sourcing of the material is through other channels.
After moulding, drying, heating and cosmetic modifications they are put into heat pressing for reinforcement. Moulding can be done as per the shapes desired. Sugarcane fibres have unique inter- fibre bonding which makes the products made out of them resistant to water and oil. Absolutely no chemical bonding additives, fillers or coatings are used making the ultimate product odour free. The shelf life of these products is two years.
Possibly entrepreneurship in her blood prompted her to venture into this field at the age of 25. Presently with a 12 member team, she is aiming higher by empowering women into entrepreneurs. She encourages in the nearby villagers to produce packaging material like bags, bin liners and garment covers made of jute, paper and cloth, etc. She is even extending the idea, especially to disabled girls.
The economics of the products are very pocket-friendly. The cups are costing about a Rupee, the cost of plates range from Rs. 2-Rs. Seven each. Tthe Meal boxes cost about Rs. 14 and the containers can cost slightly higher. With a massive monthly production of 15 lakh pieces of cutlery, this is possibly the only plant fibre based manufacturing unit in South India. The customer profile for this unique range of eco-friendly products varies from organisations, caterers, restaurants, etc. besides shops needing packing materials. Visfortec products are being sold online also. They get compliments on the looks as well as the utility of the product.
Samanvi Bhograj proudly explains her vision "Our biggest challenge has been countering ignorance about the harmful effects of plastic and making people aware of alternatives. Visfortec is not here just to sell products – we want to educate customers and have they felt responsible for the choices they make,"
The quantum of plastic waste generated daily is mind-boggling according to a survey conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The environmental degradation that can cause to our earth is unimaginable. The damage to the health of human beings due to plastic is another issue/
"Yes, plastic is all around us. But it's more a luxury than a necessity. We need to start living the way our grandparents did. Carry your bags when you go shopping, or take your box along to restaurants when you want a takeaway meal. Once we are gone, what remains is what we have used during our lifetime. So choose wisely and live a green life," she concludes.
Know more about Visfortec here. You can contact Samanvi by writing to [email protected], and place orders here